Being just two short months out from the 2020 Presidential election, there are growing concerns regarding how the American people will be able to exercise their constitutional right to vote amid an unprecedented pandemic. In response to this, Democratic legislators have proposed, and continue to push for, a less-commonly practiced, safer way to vote: voting by mail.
This method of voting enables those who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 to prioritize their health and not be forced to choose between their health and their vote. However, this proposal has been met with a less than enthusiastic response from the opposing party with its harshest critic being President Trump. President Trump has stated that voting by mail opens the door for a fraudulent and rigged election, and should be avoided at all costs. On Sep. 12, he referred to mail-in ballots in a tweet as a “scam” and “a threat to our Democracy.” Here are the facts about mail-in ballots and their relationship to voter fraud.
Mail voter fraud is extremely rare.
The hysteria surrounding mail voting is simply not validated by the numbers. In 2018, studies were conducted on two states that vote only by mail: Colorado and Washington. Findings show that the state of Washington suspected 142 cases of improper voting, which translates to merely 0.004 percent of more than 3.1 million votes. When Oregon was added into this study, data shows that in the 2016 and 2018 elections, officials identified 372 cases of potential improper voting out of the combined 14.6 million votes cast by mail in the three states. This number translates to 0.0025 percent of the total votes cast. This trend is evident in the other 47 states that also report low rates of improper voting cases in these same studies.
President Trump votes by mail.
President Trump’s criticism of the practice of mail-in ballots is particularly hypocritical because he has recently voted by mail. A little over a month ago, at the end of August, Trump cast his vote in Florida using a vote-by-mail ballot. This is not the first time he has done this either, as he often finds himself voting by mail in previous years. Just a month later on Sep. 30, Trump openly criticized this method of voting again, tweeting,“Cancel Ballots and go out and VOTE, just like in the past decades, when there were no problems!” In response to such criticism, Kamala Harris, Democratic vice-presidential nominee, tweeted, “Donald Trump votes by mail but doesn’t want you to. If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for us.”
Voting by mail can help to ensure our democracy.
A democratic government relies on the voices of its citizens. It is truly a government run by the people and for the people. Because it is a government determined by votes, it is important to note that specific rhetoric concerning voter fraud is particularly dangerous regarding voter turnout. Luring allegations that one’s vote, ultimately, will not be counted would be enough to make anyone question the importance of their vote. This is worrisome because one’s vote is, in fact, extremely important. Many Americans agree that voting by mail is not threatening to the democracy. It is a constitutional right to vote, and the suppression or discouragement of voting of any kind is arguably what many Americans pose a threat.
Americans are facing many obstacles in the upcoming election, one being the frenzy surrounding mail-in voting. However, as we face these challenging times, Americans should always remember that it is not about how you vote; it is about the simple act of voting, an act every American is encouraged to take part in.